Rethink Mental Illness responds to NHS Long-Term Workforce Plan

30 June 2023

The NHS has today published a long-term plan for its workforce, setting out how it will address existing vacancies and meet rising need. 

Mark Winstanley, Chief Executive of Rethink Mental Illness, said: 

“For too long an under-resourced workforce has struggled to deliver the swift, high-quality care that people severely affected by mental illness need. We welcome today’s NHS Long-Term Workforce Plan, and are encouraged by the emphasis it places on the mental health workforce throughout. The plan recognises the range of roles necessary to support people living with mental illness, highlighting the need to shift focus towards prevention and early intervention in the community, without forgoing the need for a properly-resourced workforce to ensure safety and quality within inpatient care when people are in crisis. 

“There has been growing concern about the dwindling numbers of mental health nurses, and so we’re pleased to see the commitment to boost training places for this profession. It’s also positive that the NHS has pledged to scale up the number of psychological therapists and practitioners, considering that too few people who could benefit from psychological therapies are able to access them when they need them. Alongside addressing the gaps in clinical care, the plan recognises the importance of diversifying the support on offer, which has previously been successful in helping meet targets. People with lived experience can play a vital role in a compassionate and skilled mental health workforce, and we welcome the pledge to increase the number of peer support workers. 

“Given the rising levels of people experiencing poor mental health across the country, it’s reassuring that we now have a long-term plan to place mental health services on a more sustainable footing for the future. However, we cannot ignore the fact that it will take time to train up new members of the workforce, with gaps remaining as demand continues to rise. The government must work to temper demand by tackling the drivers of mental illness across its departments. We’d also like to see a similarly long-term and properly-resourced plan for social care, which is essential in helping people live well in the community but suffers itself from an under-resourced workforce.”